Landry Fields of the Toronto Raptors is approaching a potential make-or-break season for his career. Fields is on the final year of a three-year, $US20 million deal he signed with the Raptors in 2012, and he has seen his career fall off a cliff since joining the team.
Fields was the surprise of the 2010 NBA draft, picked 39th by the Knicks while not even being listed on some experts’ mock drafts. But when Fields joined the Knicks that year, he became the starting shooting guard under then-coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-speed offence.
At the end of the season, Fields was named to the All-Rookie First Team after putting up impressive averages of 9.7 points on 49% shooting, 39% three-point shooting, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal per game. Fields was largely considered the steal of the draft.
When he hit free agency in the summer of 2012, the Knicks declined to match the offer sheet Fields got from the Raptors.
Fields’ struggles with Toronto have mainly been due to injuries, as SportsNet’s Eric Smith outlined in an interview with Fields. He’s played in just 81 games, with only 24 starts, and hasn’t averaged more than five points per game while hitting only 7% of his three-pointers.
Fields has had several surgeries repairing the ulnar nerve in his right arm, also his shooting arm. He’s had to go through constant rehabilitation, and as a result, he’s had to learn a new shooting form. Fields is aware he hasn’t lived up to his contract, and that his struggles could cut short what once looked like a promising career:
“There have definitely been times that I’ve thought about the contract and you look at the production and it doesn’t quite add up,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I didn’t give myself this contract. The Raptors came and took a beautiful, wonderful chance that I’m forever going to be grateful for… Whatever I can do for this team is what I’m going to do. Some people will never understand that but I have to be ok with that, otherwise I’ll send myself into a mental frenzy.”
“One of the scariest moments this summer [was thinking about] life after basketball,” acknowledged Fields. “That’s in no way, shape or form me throwing in the towel right now. It’s just natural. It just popped in my mind. In 21 years of playing basketball, this has never crossed my mind — that life could be without [basketball].”
The Toronto Raptors are considered one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this year, so it may be hard for Fields to get enough playing time to show he still has something left. Few teams, if any, will want to gamble on an oft-injured wing player who can no longer shoot the ball.
Though Fields is a good defender and rebounder, if he doesn’t get the chance to play this season, he could very well wind up out of the league.
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